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Sep 26, 2022 - 12:10:51 PM
5 posts since 7/5/2016

I have a Rover rb20 openback and I would like a suggestion on strings for playing clawhammer. I know some people use nylon. This banjo has a very good sound and I would like to enhance suggestions

Sep 26, 2022 - 12:33:06 PM

4490 posts since 10/13/2005

Type your question to the "Q" to the left of this page, lots of answers/info. banjered

Sep 26, 2022 - 12:56:23 PM
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Players Union Member

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

12586 posts since 2/22/2007

Nylon does not sound anything like steel. If your banjo has a "very good sound" with steel then I would not change it without a reason. Listen to some nylon strung banjo playing and see if that is what you want. If so, you will need to change more than just the strings, you will need a new bridge and may have to file the slots in the nut as nylon strings are thicker than steel. There is also a good chance that you would need to smooth out any rough spots on your tailpiece that could cut nylon strings but are not a problem with steel.
And for me, it also included a head change, as I did not like the sound of nylon tuned up to standard pitch with any type plastic head, so I got a goatskin and tuned down low, and I do like that.

Of course, the best solution is to just buy another banjo set up for nylon! Always!

Edited by - banjo bill-e on 09/26/2022 12:57:22

Sep 26, 2022 - 1:13:14 PM

1006 posts since 3/23/2006

Good advice from banjo bill-e. I have a banjo on which I can switch from Nylon to steel which requires changing the nut and the bridge. (I don't glue down the nut -- string pressure has never failed to keep it in place.)

Sep 26, 2022 - 2:39:23 PM
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6178 posts since 3/11/2006

The above posts make good points, but for me, nylon and a skin head are the only way to go.  
 

There are many brands of nylon strings but Nylgut (my current favorite) and La Bella 17's (which I've not tried) seem to be the most popular. 
 

Most nylon strings have straight ends so you have to know how to secure them to the tailpiece. 
 

A No-Knot tailpiece is ideal, but you have to be sure there are no sharp edges which can cut the strings- especially Nylguts which aren't actually nylon. 
 

Nylguts especially, will stretch a lot in the beginning. 

Sep 26, 2022 - 3:05:40 PM
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6178 posts since 3/11/2006

Go on YouTube and punch in:

Easiest Nylon String Knot for Banjo

for a video by Tom Collins. 

Sep 26, 2022 - 3:31:44 PM

96 posts since 1/7/2021

What strings are on it now? Do you know in what way you'd like to change the sound?

If you have a recording of someone who sounds the way you like, we might be able to advise how they get their tone.

Sep 26, 2022 - 4:08:23 PM
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74 posts since 4/4/2021

quote:
Originally posted by R.D. Lunceford

Go on YouTube and punch in:

Easiest Nylon String Knot for Banjo

for a video by Tom Collins. 


Thank you for this, R.D.!  You just made re-stringing so much easier.

Sep 26, 2022 - 4:23:38 PM

5 posts since 7/5/2016

Thanks for the advice to everyone. I have a CD of yours R C Lunceford

Sep 26, 2022 - 5:44:31 PM

6178 posts since 3/11/2006

quote:
Originally posted by slunsford

Thanks for the advice to everyone. I have a CD of yours R C Lunceford


Always nice to meet another Lunsford. We used to spell our name with an "s" a few generations ago. 

Sep 26, 2022 - 5:50 PM
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6178 posts since 3/11/2006

quote:
Originally posted by mandobanjolibrarian
quote:
Originally posted by R.D. Lunceford

Go on YouTube and punch in:

Easiest Nylon String Knot for Banjo

for a video by Tom Collins. 


Thank you for this, R.D.!  You just made re-stringing so much easier.


I personally use the knotless method for the No-Knot tailpiece as per the Mugwumps website, but Tom's method looks like it would work on a wide variety of tailpieces and it's simple as all get out. 

Sep 26, 2022 - 5:53:04 PM

6178 posts since 3/11/2006

@RG
RG- If you use non-steel strings on any of your banjoes, what do you prefer?

Sep 26, 2022 - 7:05:23 PM

1 posts since 8/17/2021

Personally, I like using Pisgah Banjo Company's Clawhammer banjo strings. They have this buttery smooth coating that feels like a nylon, while still keeping the tones of a steel string. They're not terribly expensive, but shipping isn't free so I'd order in bulk.

Sep 27, 2022 - 9:17:12 AM
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1965 posts since 2/9/2007

I'll second what banjo bill-e says.

Steel strings are much easier to deal with. I discourage any beginner from switching to nylon/gut, if they've got a banjo that's built and set up for wire strings.

Choosing a set of strings can be confusing. Banjo string gauges are all over the map. You can't go by "light" or "medium", but need to look at the fine print (the actual diameter of each string).

My all-around go-to set is the GHS brand PF150 set. it's called "light gauge", but is closer to what often gets labeled "medium"... I'd say put a set of those on your banjo, and play them for a while. Depending on your setup, your playing style, and your personal taste, you might find you want to try something different, but IMO they're a good middle-of-the-road place to start.

Sep 27, 2022 - 10:40:04 AM
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RG

USA

3190 posts since 8/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by R.D. Lunceford

@RG
RG- If you use non-steel strings on any of your banjoes, what do you prefer?


Hey R.D., the only banjo I have with non-wire is my Menzies gourd that is strung with nylguts.  I've never been a huge fan of nylguts, but they sound great on the gourd that Jeff special built for me out of blue mahoe.  Before I sold most of my vintage banjos, I had them strung with either LaBella's nylon or monofilament fishing line.  I preferred the older Fairbanks style tailpieces, or the SS Stewart "common sense" tailpieces, because I think banjos benefit sonically from string down pressure on the bridge which No-knots don't provide as much as a tailpiece that extends somewhat over the head... 

For my other banjos, I start with set of GHS PF160's, but change out the plain steel 3rd string for a wound .018, and use an old worn out first string .011 for the fifth... and I rarely change strings these days, most of them are pretty crusty and oxidized, but I like the sound and don't want to mess with the setup lest that change-haha! 




Edited by - RG on 09/27/2022 10:46:13

Sep 27, 2022 - 5:07:25 PM
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6178 posts since 3/11/2006

Thanks RG. 
Just goes to show how diverse the OT banjo world is. 
 

Sue;  There's two heavyweight votes for steel. If your banjo already sounds good to you with steel, maybe try some different sets/gauges.

I haven't used steel for years, but when I did, I'd buy singles and put together my own sets:

1= .010

2= .012

3= ? it was a standard med ga

4= silk & steel classical guitar 4th

5= .011

Sep 29, 2022 - 1:17:45 PM

4307 posts since 4/29/2012

One thing to notice about RDs suggestion is that th 5th is slightly bigger than the 1st. I know some players who use a 2nd for the 5th. I don't know if any off the shelf sets have this difference. I've still got a few sets of Clifford Essex strings with a ,01 1st and .011 5th.

Sep 29, 2022 - 5:38:08 PM
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74 posts since 4/4/2021

quote:
Originally posted by AndrewD

One thing to notice about RDs suggestion is that th 5th is slightly bigger than the 1st. I know some players who use a 2nd for the 5th. I don't know if any off the shelf sets have this difference. I've still got a few sets of Clifford Essex strings with a ,01 1st and .011 5th.


Andrew, can you explain why players prefer the larger 5th?  Does it minimize breakage when the player really gets going, or is there a tonal preference, or some kind of tactile advantage people find with a heavier 5th? A more pronounced "drone"?  Less fear of the damn thing snapping and taking your eye out when you're tuning it up?  I do realize that this is all subjective, but there must be some common denominator there if it's not unusual.  Thanks for your perspective!

Randy

Edited by - mandobanjolibrarian on 09/29/2022 17:42:37

Sep 30, 2022 - 2:28:01 AM

4307 posts since 4/29/2012

quote:
Originally posted by mandobanjolibrarian
quote:
Originally posted by AndrewD

One thing to notice about RDs suggestion is that th 5th is slightly bigger than the 1st. I know some players who use a 2nd for the 5th. I don't know if any off the shelf sets have this difference. I've still got a few sets of Clifford Essex strings with a ,01 1st and .011 5th.


Andrew, can you explain why players prefer the larger 5th?  Does it minimize breakage when the player really gets going, or is there a tonal preference, or some kind of tactile advantage people find with a heavier 5th? A more pronounced "drone"?  Less fear of the damn thing snapping and taking your eye out when you're tuning it up?  I do realize that this is all subjective, but there must be some common denominator there if it's not unusual.  Thanks for your perspective!

Randy


I can't remember the last time I broke a string. And I do a lot of my playing in big sessions in noisy pubs where I have to really let rip to be heard. It's mostly to calm the sound of the 5th down a bit to give a less pronounced drone. I also like the feel of s slightly stiffer, more resistant, 5th to bounce off.

Sep 30, 2022 - 8:02:03 AM
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1965 posts since 2/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by AndrewD

One thing to notice about RDs suggestion is that th 5th is slightly bigger than the 1st. I know some players who use a 2nd for the 5th. I don't know if any off the shelf sets have this difference. I've still got a few sets of Clifford Essex strings with a ,01 1st and .011 5th.


The PF160 set has a .011" 1st and a .010" 5th, so Rick is just making them equal by changing the 5th string.  I usually do the same thing with that set.

Sep 30, 2022 - 8:51:44 AM

6178 posts since 3/11/2006

A lot of folks are looking to cut down the ring/twang of the 5th string and get it to be a bit more percussive. A heavier string or some kind of muting takes it in that direction. Some folks use a used 2nd string for a 5th. It's duller, and heavier- usually .012 in a medium ga. set. 
 

For a long time I'd put a small piece of cloth electrical tape between the string and the bridge slot but lately I've been using a small neoprene o-ring.


 

Sep 30, 2022 - 5:10:28 PM

RG

USA

3190 posts since 8/7/2008

quote:
Originally posted by R.D. Lunceford

A lot of folks are looking to cut down the ring/twang of the 5th string and get it to be a bit more percussive. A heavier string or some kind of muting takes it in that direction. Some folks use a used 2nd string for a 5th. It's duller, and heavier- usually .012 in a medium ga. set. 
 

For a long time I'd put a small piece of cloth electrical tape between the string and the bridge slot but lately I've been using a small neoprene o-ring.


 

 


You can also strip electrical wire and slide your string through that as well R.D.

Sep 30, 2022 - 9:57:52 PM
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6178 posts since 3/11/2006

quote:
Originally posted by RG
quote:
Originally posted by R.D. Lunceford

A lot of folks are looking to cut down the ring/twang of the 5th string and get it to be a bit more percussive. A heavier string or some kind of muting takes it in that direction. Some folks use a used 2nd string for a 5th. It's duller, and heavier- usually .012 in a medium ga. set. 
 

For a long time I'd put a small piece of cloth electrical tape between the string and the bridge slot but lately I've been using a small neoprene o-ring.


 

 


You can also strip electrical wire and slide your string through that as well R.D.


Yep, I've heard of that too. 
Thanks for bringing it up. 

Oct 1, 2022 - 5:36:52 AM

JSB88

UK

386 posts since 3/9/2017

While people are thinking about 5th strings, is there a name for the plastic sleeve that some banjos have over the 5th as it leaves the nut and travels to the peg? My first banjo, that was bought for me new, has one. My Gold Tone, that I bought second hand, doesn't. I hadn't even noticed until now and assume it protects the edge of the fretboard from the string? The reason I ask is because I was wondering about buying one for my GT but cannot find then in Eagle Music website and to conduct a further search kinda need to know a search term. Also, are they really necessary? (Apologies for the thread drift but didn't seem worth starting a new one just for this)

Oct 1, 2022 - 4:46:23 PM
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6178 posts since 3/11/2006

Perhaps RG's suggestion would work. 
 

By the by, some brands of violin strings include string sleeves and miniscule rubber "doughnuts" to mute the string at the bridge. I'd never by a set of violin strings just to get those items. RG's wire insulation and my o-ring accomplish the same thing.

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